Sunday Summary #18

Welcome to Sunday Summary, the meme in which I attempt to summarize the week that came before. The week began with another holiday; Thai Constitution Day is annually celebrated on December 10 so Monday was a substitution day. My lovely lady Kan took this as her last weekend of “freedom” before starting a new job and booked us a night’s stay in a resort town on the west coast. I had a hard time pulling myself away in order to return to work Tuesday morning. LL started working that same day and we won’t see each other again until Christmas Eve, which is rapidly approaching. The week at work was spent preparing for Friday’s holiday “show”. I had to take public transportation over the hills into Phuket Town on three straight days — two for visits to the Immigration Office and the last to teach an hour-long class in the evening. I stayed in my old apartment through the weekend, although my Saturday and Sunday students cancelled their lessons on both days.

This week’s installment will be largely chronological rather than divided into topical sections in an attempt to make things a bit easier on myself (going back and forth choosing photos is very time-consuming).

Sunday, December 11

The week began with a Smart Bus trip north to spend some more quality time with Kanchana. I am so happy that she has returned and seems hell-bent to make up for the four-months she spent up-country. When we are together, our three main activities (in this order) are Walking, Eating and More Eating. There is a bit of Watching TV, Talking, and even some Sleeping mixed in there as well but a day and night with LL involves following our stomachs, trying out new restaurants and revisiting favorite eateries.

Our first stop upon my arrival was a place called Sushi Box. I am not a big fan of most seafood unless it is battered and deep fried but there was actually a grilled chicken steak and Japanese potato croquettes on the menu meaning I didn’t have to starve. The food was good but the service was absolute crap. It took our waitress nearly 30 minutes to bring us our bill after we finished eating (she was the ONLY one on the floor and it was quite crowded); when she did bring it, she said the computer was down and had to add it by hand (severely over-charging us in the process). She disappeared again and we decided to just leave without disputing it or getting our change as we needed to check into our hotel.

That was somewhat chaotic as well with the lobby full of Slavic and Middle Eastern tourists but we finally got to our room. The hallways showed some significant flood damage but the first-floor room was in good order and quite large. Kan had been looking forward to watching some television as her new apartment doesn’t have one. Neither did the hotel room so we requested one be brought. The reception was terrible so we gave up and headed outside again.

The main goal for this holiday was to go shopping for Kan’s main Christmas present. I had promised her a gold ring back in June or July so we headed out to the gold shops. I must mention that Thai gold is not really good quality and is not tied to the international bullion markets in any way. It is shiny and yellow and Thai people think it’s the real deal. The first shop we visited was full of bad jewelry and even Kan turned her nose up at the trinkets on offer. The second shop had better items in the cases and they had some good deals. LL asked if she could get a necklace instead and I was happy with the price.

Happy with the strand around her neck, Kan and I did some more walking around and she noticed a few “Staff Wanted” signs in various windows. Picking one restaurant at random, she spent two minutes talking with the owner and was hired on the spot. She was told to report for work the following afternoon. It’s too bad her previous job hadn’t been held for her but her starting salary is even higher than that one was and she’ll be selling a higher quality of meals than the Subway sandwiches of last summer. We then walked most of the length of the beach where we took a few “wefies” before having to run for shelter when the skies opened for the daily drenching. We also found a Christmas tree to pose in front of.

Following the storm, we made a quick trip back to the hotel room to dress for an evening out (Kan’s outfit sure out-classed mine). Neither of us drinks alcohol much at all but the hotel bar had ice-cold bottles of Corona so we each had one prior to walking across the street for our dinner. I had spaghetti with meat sauce (not very good) while the lady had Thai food. Afterwards, we hung out with some of her friends (more to show the bling than anything else although they feasted on what I like to call “petrified fish”). We didn’t stay there very long (less than an hour) before taking some more photos with Santa and the Christmas tree near the beach. We were asleep before midnight, Kan saying that we are getting old with loud music and flashing lights no longer holding any appeal for either of us.

Monday, December 12

This was the Constitution Day substitution holiday so banks and the like were closed. The morning was rainy and dreary so we lingered in the hotel room until the 11:30 check-out time and went to have a late breakfast at our favorite spot. I, as always, had French toast there and LL had Thai food. After our meal, we walked around for a while and she bought me a foot-long Subway sandwich to take back to Kata for my lunch/dinner. I boarded the Smart Bus and returned to my apartment which somehow felt far emptier than usual.

Tuesday, December 13

This was our monthly payday and it’s always nice to receive money following a holiday, although Kanchana paid for almost everything other than the gold around her neck. I still found it difficult to return to my routine 6:30 arrival at school and then the ubiquitous 7-Eleven meal in the evening afterwards. I eat so well when I am with my lovely lady and absolute crap when I am in Kata alone. At least the stays in Phuket Town see me ordering from Food Panda every day.

Wednesday, December 14

Most mornings when I arrive at school, one of the cats that live at the temple is sitting there to greet me. I give him a bit of loving while waiting for the caretaker to unlock the door. On this particular day, I had to leave school early in order to go apply for yet another one-year visa extension at Phuket Immigration. I was a bit peeved as I had just done this at the end of September but it was necessary to obtain a new work permit with my new employers — even within the same profession, one cannot just add a change of job into the book and a new visa is required as well. It’s really annoying, not to mention expensive. I was lucky in that when I came out of the school onto the main road, the local bus (songteaw) was sitting there waiting for the traffic lights to change so I didn’t have to wait at all. The queue outside of Immigration was full of clueless foreigners jamming up the works but I still didn’t have too terribly long to wait. I was back home in Kata by 4:00 in the afternoon.

Thursday, December 15

I think I am done with decorating my office space for the holidays although some blinking Christmas lights might be nice. I am surprised that there have not been any incidents of curious kids toppling my tree or something along those lines. They have been very respectful of the many little bits and bobs surrounding my desk. I have yet to try on my Santa costume to see if it fits nor have I figured out a good time to change into it (I cannot do Gate Duty as Santa and there isn’t really a place to change unless I run over to my apartment really quick between Gate Duty and the Morning Assembly. At least somebody has asked if I would like to use the big loudspeaker to play the music. I think I can connect my phone to it via Bluetooth.

I had to return to Phuket Town on Thursday to pick up my passport and then run over to the offices of my new agency so they could photocopy the new visa to take to the Labour Department. Along the way, I noticed that the coffee shop next to the Tavorn Hotel in Old Town had finally reopened for the first time since March 2020. The car pictured above sat under a tarp for all this time and I often wanted to look underneath while waiting for the local bus at the nearby stop. I also came across a shop selling radio-controlled model airplanes which made me think of my dad who scratch-built dozens of these while I was growing up.

The clasp on Kan’s gold necklace broke Thursday evening; when she took it back to the shop they said it would cost 800 baht (nearly 10 percent of what I paid) to repair it. Shrewd negotiator she is, she ended up exchanging the broken necklace for another one with a gold heart on it for the same price as the repair would have cost. I had mentioned that a heart would like nice at the end of the plain strand and here she was adding it without any further outlay from myself. I think I will go ahead an buy her the accompanying ring on Christmas Eve if she doesn’t beat me to it!

Friday, December 16

Friday was a “temple day” so some of the classes were cancelled so the children could go and pray in the wat. I tried to return to the regular curriculum during almost all of the lessons this week, spending just 10-15 minutes rehearsing the Christmas songs. I think about half of the classes are as ready as they will ever be and a couple of them are really good. I will be very thankful once Christmas is in the past and the Chinese teacher can begin rehearsing for a Lunar New Year show. Perhaps I can dress up as a rabbit since this will be the Year of the Hare.

After school, I had to return to Phuket Town in order to teach my late afternoon/evening class. Luckily, the Chinese teacher drives me on Fridays. One of my students was so tired that he walked into the classroom and promptly fell asleep. This caused the other student to throw paper airplanes at him until he woke up. After the lesson, I ordered some chicken biryani from Food Panda and it was better than almost anything I’d eaten all week (I wasn’t able to go to New York Burger at all).

Kan informed me Friday night that Jungceylon, a large shopping complex in Patong Beach, had finally reopened (another big COVID casualty) and said that she would take me shopping for my Christmas present at the mall next Saturday. The High Season carnival also started that evening and she sent me video footage of the fireworks display on the beach.

Saturday, December 17

My students cancelled their lessons for Saturday and Sunday so I spent all day yesterday at home puttering about. I did laundry, searched for a few things I want to take back to Kata with me, and wrote a long blog article about a postcard I received from Ukraine last week. Indeed, the only blogging I did all week was for Postcards to Phuket. I’m not sure that I will have much time this coming week for writing articles either as I will be trying to do final rehearsals for our Christmas show. The postcard blogs are usually pretty easy (the Ukraine one involved a lot of extra research but I found it very satisfying when I finished it). I would like to add a few more articles about 2020’s Christmas stamps but don’t really think I will be able to do that. Still, who knows?

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I ordered my last Food Panda meal of the weekend last night — a really health-conscious batch of French fries, onion rings and spaghetti Bolognaise — which I ate while watching the Civil War slavery movie Emancipation starring Will Smith. Earlier in the week, I watched a romantic comedy called Something From Tiffany’s. The contrast could not have been greater!

I read some almost every night this week but still haven’t finished Lawrence Block’s The Burglar Who Met Frederic Brown. I hope to complete it sometime in the next week and it will probably be the last book I read in 2022. I have fallen far short of any previous year in memory. To finish more books will be one of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2023. During the week, I only listened to 197 songs (and only 362 tracks in the entire month of December so far). What I listened to was kind of a strange mix — albums by Dido, Fleetwood Mac, Linda Ronstadt, and Queen as well as live material by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, mostly recorded in 1977.

And that is my Sunday Summary for December 11-17, 2022. It’s time to pack up for the trip back to my apartment in Kata Beach — probably for the last time this year (although I might stop by my Phuket Town apartment after my class next Friday night if the students don’t cancel the lesson.

I hope the week to come is just how you want it to be. Cheers!

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